Japan confirms sub spotted near Senkakus was Chinese
January 22 2018, 02:04 | Irvin Gilbert
China Urges Japan to Avoid 'Artificial' Incidents Near Disputed Islands
The incursions happened Wednesday and Thursday in Japan's contiguous zone around Okinawa and the Senkaku Islands by a Chinese frigate and submarine presumed to be from China, Japanese officials said.
Japan lodged a protest with its neighbor after the submarine and the Chinese vessel approached what Tokyo considers as its territorial waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, Japan's Defense Ministry said.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile interceptor system Aegis Ashore, to be deployed in Japan, could be used to intercept Chinese cruise missiles, a statement that may not be well received in Beijing.
Ministry officials say the submarine apparently belongs to the Chinese Navy, as a Chinese frigate was spotted nearby. China has probed Japan's claimed waters and air space in the East China Sea with a range of assets so far, including aircraft, drones, and surface ships.
The Japan Coast Guard said Chinese ships entered Japanese waters 114 times previous year. It does not include the contiguous zone, where a coastal state is afforded some law enforcement rights under worldwide law. The sub exited the contiguous zone and headed toward the Senkakus on Thursday morning.
A foreign submarine was also detected in the same area on Wednesday as well as on Thursday, according to Japan's Defense Ministry.
A Chinese frigate was also observed Thursday entering the zone, prompting Japan to protest that action. Both vessels sailed out of the zone in the afternoon, without reaching the Japanese territorial waters. Five submarines have been spotted entering Japan's contiguous zone since 2013, a defense ministry spokesman said.
Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua at the Foreign Ministry to express grave concern about the move, the ministry said in a statement.
Relations between Japan and China deteriorated in 2012 when Tokyo "nationalised" some of the islets.
The crisis management mechanism, however, excludes Japan's territorial waters and air space around the disputed Senkaku Islands. China and Taiwan claim them.
The Chinese ambassador responded to the protest by reiterating China's stance on the islands, the statement added.